Experiments in music and marketing

Artist interview with Cats Cradle Robbers

Cats Cradle Robbers, Seattle’s most creative electronica duo, have been creating experimental electroacoustic music since 2007.

We are pleased to announce the release of our 5th album Every Kitty Dance Meow.  Every Kitty Dance Meow is available for purchase and download from most digital music marketplaces worldwide. Every Kitty Dance Meow consists of 13 House, Deep House, and Downtempo dance tracks.  In addition to the individual tracks, the album includes a bonus second disc by Seattle’s DJ Zube, playing a live continuous mix of the full album, and bringing his own unique and creative perspective to the album.

 

To support their music and stay in touch with their fans, Cats Cradle Robbers are all over the socials.

Facebook is where we’ve put the most energy, and it shows. Between leveraging our personal friends to share our posts, and targeted Facebook ads, we’ve built up a decent early platform, and we’ve had a steady upwards cadence.  For some reason that we’re not sure about, the bulk of our Facebook followers are in Indonesia.  This started when we were experimenting with targeted ads in various countries.  Eastern Europe and India both popped, but Indonesia just blew up with post interactions.  We can’t currently correlate that with sales, so it may be a pattern related to Facebook usage in that country.

Cats Cradle Robbers in the studio

Indonesians are currently the biggest users of social media in the world, so maybe that has something to do with it! As well as Facebook, Cats Cradle Robbers are…

very active on Twitter, Instagram, and we also maintain a band blog and YouTube channel.

 

How have sales been for them in this digital world?

Because we sell only downloadable digital content, we rely on a number of digital purchase and streaming services, which we distribute to via CDBaby.  While it results in very little revenue, we get more plays on Spotify than any other service.   However, our greatest revenue to date comes from Amazon Music sales of our albums.

 

I asked the duo if they have any techniques to convert followers into customers?

We’re still trying to crack that nut. Experience with more traditional bands tells us that the best way to generate sales is to sell music at gigs. Because we are strictly a recording duo, we don’t have that opportunity.  Most of the time, we try to keep a steady flow of interesting and varied content to our channel, and we try to foster engagement with that content, building relationships with others who can help to spread that content beyond our immediate circle.  For us that primarily means radio stations – both terrestrial and online. We’ve had the most luck with Radio Xenu, Rocker’s Dive Radio, and Open The Door – three stations who are passionate about independent music and committed to playing indie artists.

Cats Cradle Robbers profile

It’s always good to have some concrete examples from other artists about what has worked for them. Cats Cradle Robbers have kindly let us see behind the scenes.

Here are a few of the most successful methods we’ve found for building engagement:

  • We held a design contest for the cover of our fourth album Seen and Unseen. This resulted in a number of art submissions, including the one that we eventually used for the release.  Not only did this build some excitement for the album, but it also got us some mention in marketing circles as innovators in indie music marketing.
  • For the same album, we released one of our tracks on splice.com for remixing. We plan to release an EP within the next year showcasing the best remixes.
  • We have submitted our music to a couple of different online contests such as the IndieNation band battle and Radio Xenu’s year-end top 40.  By actively engaging with our friends to get them to vote for our music, we got to second place on IndieNation, and 14th in the top 40.  The top 40 in itself helped to increase our Spotify monthly listenership by about 1300% during January last year.

 

Does the band have a marketing philosophy?

It’s far more important to us to be heard and recognized for our creative and unusual approach to experimental music than it is to generate income.  We’ve spent most of our time and energy building our brand, and trying to find listeners for our music.  We are committed to making  the music that we want to make, rather than tailoring our music for a specific audience.  Every Kitty Dance Meow is a departure for us in that sense, in that we were trying with this album to target a more mainstream dance music audience and thereby to encourage more listeners to engage with our back catalog.

In the studio with Cats Cradle Robbers

Are there any apps or tools that Cats Cradle Robbers have found useful in marketing their work?

We use the free Commun.it service to reward and engage our Twitter audience, and we’ve used Facebook ads to push selected content to a larger audience on both Facebook and Instagram.  We’re still trying to determine whether there is a correlation between these tools and actual engagement and sales.  In general, we feel that the additional name exposure this brings us is a positive thing, but we haven’t found a direct correlation with our revenue stream. Over the last year, we’ve used Spotify’s Fan Insights tools to get a better view into our audience on that platform.  This doesn’t help us push out our message, but it has been an effective tool to help see the impact of various events and actions on our Spotify listenership. For example, this helped us see the impact of our participation in the Radio Xenu top 40 last year.

 

What are their top 3 tips for other artists who are marketing their work online?

  1. First, know your key metrics:  what are the specific numeric goals you want to achieve?  For example, do you want to hit $1000 in total sales, or a sustained $200 a month?  Do you want to grow your Instagram audience, and what number do you want to hit by what date?  Do you want to get more likes per post on Facebook?  How many likes?  Track these metrics over time, and come up with strategies to achieve those goals.  As you move forward, notice what works and what doesn’t work.  Repeat the things that work.
  2. Second, realize that you are part of a community, and you should not be afraid to put your community to work for you.  Find or create special events or milestones that you can use to rally your supporters. In our case, some examplesinclude our record release party, our remix contest, our cover design contest, and the Radio Xenu top 40. Don’t be afraid to actively engage your support network and ask them to help get the word out. Have specific things they can do, like retweeting your message or getting 5 friends to come out to a gig. In addition to your personal network, take advantage of the social media community.  There are plenty of content aggregators, bloggers, retweet bots, and so forth that can help spread your message if you sign up, submit your content, and tag your posts correctly.  Seek these out and use them to increase your reach.
  3. Third, don’t make it all about you. Band together with other artists you know and appreciate, and combine forces to double your marketing power. Lift up your fellow artists in your own messaging, and ask them to do the same for you.
It's a mango!

Recently, Ed from Cats Cradle Robbers has channeled his personal experience into a new work.  Cats Cradle Robbers are collaborating with other artists to put together a benefit project to raise money for cancer research. Here’s what Ed says about the project.

"Please join forces with me in the Mango project.  We're creating stirring music for a cause, to help support cancer research and patients in need of support.

In February 2017, I was diagnosed with a highly treatable form of cancer.  I'm fortunate to have a form of cancer with a positive prognosis and for having incredible social support through amazing friends and family.  Not all cancer patients are as fortunate as I am, and I want to help them.

Since my diagnosis, I've been leaning heavily into music as a form of therapy.  It has been an incredibility prolific, and profoundly developing time for me as I really connect to the music through my experience.

While it has started as a personal project, I want to reach out to other collaborators to join in.  I've intentionally created pieces with space for vocalists, leads, and other instrumentalists to work their magic.

Whether you have cancer, are a survivor, or have touched by cancer -- I think in this world, we all have been touched by cancer in some way -- then I'd love your collaboration on this project.

Non-musicians who can help logistically, with design creative, or otherwise are welcome, too.  If this project moves you, help it to move others, too.  :)

I'm still searching for the right cause for the proceeds, and suggestions are most welcome.

With deep love and respect,

Ed "DJSE" Essey

PS - Listen to all of the current pieces in the Mango here, free of charge.  Mango by Cats Cradle Robbers.  Share them, like them, comment, and convey your interest."


I'm sure you'll agree this has been a really informative interview about marketing for creatives. Cat’s Cradle Robbers have been super generous with their insights and experiences. If you have something to contribute to the Mango project, get involved!

For more information about the duo hit their social channels.

Twitter * Instagram * Facebook * YouTube * Band blog

If you’re on the cusp of launching your own creative work to the world, take a look at this Follow Magazine free guide: Launching Your Creative Work.